FACULTY OF ARTS AND LITERATURE UNIVERSITY OF MOSTAGANEMDepartment of EnglishFundamental Contexts in Language TeachingDr. Bel Abbes Neddar THE SCOPE OF LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION (I)In our first session we saw that enquiry involves an idealization of the data. It is in so doingthat we produce some kind of a model of the subject that we are dealing with.In our second session we dealt with the design features of language: its arbitrariness andduality, the fact that it is context-independent, operates across different media (speech andwriting) and so on. The phenomenon as a whole is both pervasive and elusive. How then canit be pinned down and systematically studied?This question moves us from the properties of language to the principles of the disciplinewhich studies them, from the design features of language to the design features of linguistics.So, in this session we are going to relate issues dealt with in session 1 to that of session 2, Sothe question that we will be dealing with is what are the scope of linguistic description?The first notion to think about is that of a model. This leads me to pass under a reviewanother and no less important which is that of idealization.The purpose of linguistics is to explain language, and explanation depends on somedissociation from the immediacy of experience. If you are in the middle of the wood all youcan see is the trees: if you want to see the wood, you have to get out of it. In fact, there isnothing unusual about this of course. As we have seen, it is one of the critical design featuresof language itself that it is at a remove from the actual reality of things. Its signs are arbitrary,and can therefore provide for abstraction: they enable us to set up conceptual categories todefine our own world. It is this which enables human beings to be proactive rather thanreactive: language does not just reflect or record reality, but creates it.The experience of language, as cognition and communication, is, as we have seen,inordinately complex. The purpose of linguistics is to provide some explanation of thiscomplexity by abstracting from it what seems to be of essential significance. Abstractioninvolves the idealization of actual data, as part of the process of constructing models oflinguistic description. Let me now dwell a bit about the notion of idealization.